Thursday, December 30, 2010


Last workday of the year and we’re down to four people. After noon, maybe three, maybe two. Perhaps I won’t be there to count.
It’s been a calm week at the lab. I like this time of year, when the year-end rush is over (or given up on!), everyone’s on vacation, finally a bit of peace between the two party weekends. It might be nice to travel and see my family for the holidays, but that always turns out to be so hectic and bothersome. Stations and airports are crammed, and may close for bad weather for any length of time, plus since so many people are traveling it’s more expensive, more hassle, and there’s never anyplace to sit down. Forget it! Travel in the off-season.
So what sort of year has it been?
Every year, it always seems to have the busiest year ever. Which in a way is true, since the annual activity report shows that, yes, we did churn out more reports than ever before. (This doesn’t have to mean we did more work, just that we were more successful at it. No matter how many times you repeat an assay, only the one that worked becomes a result.)
By a lot of measures, I was busier, but not by one of the measures that my boss has really been leaning on me about: publishing. The lab has three new permanent employees, which makes the lab as a whole busier, which makes me busier because I’m the one to manage all those people. The lab must attain accreditation in the near-ish future, which may seem far away, but we are so far away from being accreditable that it’s urgent to act now. I can’t delegate much of that work until I come up with the framework for how to do it.
Translation: It was the year I reached my managerial capacity.
That’s why it feels like the heaviest year ever.
There have been worse years. The one I spent as a post-doc at Yale was pretty awful. The second year of grad school was horrid.
But this year I feel I’ve really done all I could to make things run, and it’s just quantitatively too much. I’m tired. Thank goodness this week is just coasting, or I would collapse.
On the other hand, this was also the year I got off my duff and joined some new social circles. Italian on Thursdays, which I fully intend to go test in Italy. Bridge on Wednesdays and assorted Saturdays, where I’ve become an appreciated partner. I’m learning people’s names, becoming comfortable playing a session without too many mistakes. Last night I acquired a regular partner, even, so I won’t always be arriving to play and have to wait to see who else might show up on their own. It’s neat to become part of the group, not just a visitor.
Travel happened. Of course!
There was San Sebastian, on the spur of the moment. Wonderful place. Must eat my way across Spain some day. Poitiers for one of those long weekend explorations I really must do more often. Strasbourg for a conference, in the January snow.
And a magnificent road trip to see my family and some friends in the States. We had everyone together for once, as only happens every few years. I even picked up my last Southern state: Alabama. Just three to go!
And New Year’s Eve? well, I think I’ll just relax at home. If the weather’s good, a day hike or an overnight train somewhere might be in order. I’ll work on Monday’s Poetry Bus ticket, finish up the Best of 2010 photo album, and take plenty of naps in preparation for the full-speed-ahead first Monday of the year.


Bagman and Butler said...

Whew! I'd be tired too. And you didn't even mention blogging and commenting on other people's blogs. I do like the sentence - "It was the year I reached my managerial capacity." For me this is the year I have decided to walk away from my managerial capacity, hoping that it does not wake up and notice I'm gone until I'm far away.

steven said...

man oh man i know how you feel. you deserve a big rest and so ... poof . . . i grant you one. tell your boss i said so!!! steven

nuts4fruits said...

Working on cool science in France... You have the perfect life, apart from the managerial woes. If you ever need someone for data/stats analysis please pick me :)

Happy New Year!

shabby girl said...

Sounds like a very busy year! I don't know how you manage to blog at all! You deserve the rest right now. Can't wait to see your Best Of Photos!

Argent said...

I'm coasting my way to the end of the year too. Things have been nicely quiet this week after some panics on Christmas and Boxing day.

Expect it'll all go mad again in the new year.

Happy 2011 to you!